Started: Monday, April 9, 2012
Draft Finished: Monday, September 3, 2012
Disclaimer: The character and names of Naruto characters belong to Kishimoto Masashi-sensei. This story belongs to me.
Summary: Tenten and Neji gets stuck together for a week thanks to Lee's special glue. While they wait for the dissolvent to arrive in the mail, they are stuck. Can they survive living as an unit for a week? It all started with Lee's stupid model ship.
Trial and Error
It was dawn when he woke up. Immediately, the soft sound of chirping of birds filled his ears. It was faint, but he could hear them as if they were perched on his window sill. As the sun peered over the horizon, lighting up the dark skies in a warm glow, he opened the windows to let in the crisp morning air. Peering outside, his gaze followed the high walls of the Hyuuga compound that blocked the impending sunlight, covering the vacant grounds with long shadows that stretched out to the corners. The summer morning air was something he would always look forward to. It brought him a sense of calmness that he couldn't quite describe without feeling a bit nostalgic. He felt the heat of the sun upon his face and with one last look outside, Hiashi began his daily routine.
The wooden floors barely made a sound as Hiashi walked down the long corridors. His long but silent strides were stead fast, guiding him toward the center of the Hyuuga compound where a wave of warmth greeted him as he stepped into the sunlight. The humidity in the air was evident as the beads of dew reflected the rays of light rising above the horizon. Hiashi took a seat and proceeded to close his eyes and meditate. As a creature of habit, he found that the morning was the perfect time to reflect on his thoughts before tending to his duties as head of the Hyuuga clan. Of his many responsibilities, his first and foremost focus was his family.
Upon receiving a message regarding his nephew from the Hokage, Hiashi expected it to be a progress report, or a another promotion. However, nothing could have prepared him as he read the short message. "Neji and his teammate Tenten are bound together," were the only words written in the scroll. There was no other explanation. Instead of writing back, Hiashi went straight to the Hokage's office in search of an immediate answer. Tsunade didn't even blink an eye when she saw him appear in her office without an appointment.
"When did this union occur?" Tsunade didn't miss a beat.
"This morning," she calmly told him.
"When did you find out?"
The Hokage nonchalantly poured herself a cup of sake before giving him an answer. "This morning."
"This isn't possible," he stated blatantly.
"You can't do anything about it, Hiashi." Tsunade merely shrugged her shoulders and took another sip from her cup. "They have come to terms with it and told me this morning. All they ask is for discretion, but it will only be a matter of time until people will start to notice."
"I don't understand." His brows furrowed in confusion. "Did you give them permission to proceed with their decision?"
"Yes, I did."
"Without first informing me of the situation before it happened." He took a step closer toward the Hokage's desk, willing himself to keep his anger under control. "With all due respect, Lady Tsunade, I have every right to know."
"I am informing you now."
"Then, you must annul it," Hiashi abrasively countered.
"Annul it?" Tsunade raised a brow. Then, slowly, her lips turned into a wide amused grin. "When I said they were bound to each other, I meant that they are stuck together, literally. There was a mishap that involved a very strong adhesive that cannot be washed off." The Hokage thought that it was the opportune moment to turn the situation into a joke.
To say the least, the leader of the Hyuuga clan was not amused; far from it. "Lady Tsunade, you were leading me to believe that Neji and Tenten were bound in marriage."
"That I did," smiled Tsunade. "Relax, Hiashi. You look like you're on the verge of a heart attack."
Instead of responding to the Hokage's rhetorical statement, he asked her about his nephew's unusual predicament, "How are they handling the situation?"
"The adhesive binding them together will not dissolve until they have the solvent, which I believe will arrive in a week's time. For the time being, I have assigned them on the same mission that will keep them busy for a while. Despite their insistence, I wanted to disclose the details of their situation so that you will not jump to any other conclusion."
"I understand," he gave her a nod. "Thank you for informing me of this matter."
"Don't make me regret it," the Hokage laconically told him as he took his exit.
Suffice to say, Hiashi didn't waste time to prepare the appropriate arrangements for Neji and Tenten. When he returned to the Hyuuga compound, Hiashi made sure that the residence became vacant. As the leader of the Hyuuga clan, no one questioned him when he asked the other members of the family to take an all expense paid trip to the hot springs.
The second order of business was the living arrangements. His immediate response was to employ the many seamstresses of the Hyuuga clan to produce Neji and Tenten each a set of new clothing that would be more convenient for them to wear. Upon explaining his request for the newly designed clothing, Hiashi was surprised that the seamstresses took the revisions as a challenge and were more than happy to comply to his newly interest in their craft.
The next and finally step was to convince Neji and Tenten to stay at the Hyuuga compound during their unusual situation. Hiashi had good reason to offer asylum to them both. For one thing, he fully understood why they were eager to keep their predicament as quiet as possible. Among the shinobi community, Neji and Tenten were highly recognized for their unique skill set and status. Needless to say, he respected their decision to endure their embarrassment in silence rather than be pitied by their peers, and he wanted to help any way he could even if they were too proud to ask for it.
Now that they were inseparable, Hiashi was certain that their current predicament would soon raise suspicions. Throughout the years, Hiashi had witnessed Neji's growing fondness for his teammate. He thought nothing of it until he recognized a pattern emerging. He noted the many missions they had together, and given the opportunity, Neji would request for Tenten to be on his team whenever he was assigned to be team leader despite their difference in rank; no doubt their partnership yielded a higher success rate of a completed mission. Whether their feelings were mutual or not, Hiashi kept his observations silent, yet he felt compelled to act on their behalf to protect Neji and Tenten from the political pressures associated with the Hyuuga clan. Keeping them both within his vicinity was for their own good.
After his meditation, Hiashi headed back to his room. He had yet to give Neji and Tenten their newly tailored wardrobe since they decided to retire early last night. Knowing that they were resourceful, he didn't feel the need to seek them out. Hiashi went to retrieve the clothes and headed toward Neji's room, knowing that they were probably up by now. In a few strides, Hiashi was at the doorway, but stopped short when he heard a startling noise that came from the other side. Instead of barging in, he kept his presence hidden while he rationalized the situation, aware from experience that acting on impulse would only lead to disastrous results. It was only fair to give them the benefit of the doubt.
When she opened her eyes, it took a second for her to realize that it wasn't a dream. Wide awake, her dark eyes traveled to Neji's peaceful face, finding that he was still asleep. It was a rare sight to see her teammate in a state of slumber. Usually, he would be the last to sleep and first to wake up. How he could function with only a minimum amount of sleep was beyond her understanding since sleep ranked very high on her list of things that she couldn't live without; second only to weapons.
In moments like these, Tenten would take the opportunity to observe him. She noted how the curve of his brow was symmetric to his other, beginning and ending at the right points that define his masculinity, and at the same time, complimenting the neutrality of his relaxed facial structure. She mentally drew a line from the left side of his face down to his jaw line and up to the other side. The way his hair framed his face contrasted the color of his smooth light skin gave him a distilled glow that was rather captivating. In many ways, she was jealous of his aristocratic features, but she'd never tell him. As a friend and teammate, she respected him too much to fill his ego with superficial flattery; not that he had an ego to begin with anyway.
Realizing how close they were, she tried to keep still. His body was warm and inviting despite the thin sheets that draped over them. Not did she mind their close proximity, she just didn't want to wake him. What she did mind was the fact that her left leg had fallen asleep. The kunoichi decided to ignore it, but that was in vain since the burning sensation was growing more intensive with every ticking second. Since her arms were stuck between the weight of their bodies, she slowly wiggled her arms free, and reached over to give Neji's shoulder a gentle shake.
"Neji," she whispered softly. Instantaneously, his eyes snapped open. "Morning," Tenten greeted him with a smile.
His light orbs scanned their tangled limbs and he slowly pulled his warm body away from her as he sat up. "Sorry," he said to her, adverting his gaze. The kunoichi let out a small chuckle and moved her leg from under the sheets. When she did so, the feeling of tiny needles prickling her leg made her gasp in pain. Neji turned to her. "What's the matter?"
"My leg fell asleep," Tenten agonizingly told him, reaching down to massage it in order to increase the blood circulation. It didn't help because the second she lifted her leg, the pain intensified. A loud yelp escaped her mouth before she could stop herself and she fell back onto the bed. "Ow," she moaned, "I shouldn't have done that." Beside her, Neji shook his head while his lips twitched into a smirk. He didn't enjoy seeing his teammate in pain; however her antics were amusing to say the least.
Automatically, he brought his hand on her left leg and began to massage it. The pressure Neji applied on her leg made her want to sigh with relief, but she kept quiet and did her best to stay still as the pain slowly ebbed away. Her previous outburst probably woke up the entire household, so she tried to her best to remain calm until Neji pressed a little too hard on a particular nerve.
He heard her sharp intake of breath and halted his movements. "Are you okay?"
"Yeah," she quickly told him. "I'm fine."
"Maybe I should stop." Neji pulled his hand away, but stopped when Tenten reached out to him.
"It's fine," the kunoichi pressed. "You weren't hurting me."
Neji raised a brow. "Are you sure?"
"Yeah," she answered. Tenten sensed his hesitation and urged him to continue. "Go ahead."
Before Neji could place his hand on top of Tenten's leg, the door slid open without warning. Standing near the door, unannounced was Hiashi, who clearly looked a little on edge. Very quickly, Neji pulled the sheets over Tenten and got up to his feet.
"Good morning, Uncle." He bowed. "May I help you with something?"
There was a pregnant pause before Hiashi cleared his throat to reply. "I heard a loud scream and came to investigate the cause of the noise."
"That was me," Tenten told him sheepishly. "I'm sorry; I didn't mean to wake you up. My leg fell asleep and I wasn't aware of it."
"It's quite all right," he stated ardently. "I was on my way to give you two your new set of clothes." In his hands were two big wooden boxes. They looked heavy in his arms, but he didn't show any sign of it. "I believe your traditional garments are rather useless in this situation." He approached them and handed the boxes over to Neji.
"We appreciate it, Uncle." Neji set them down on the bed.
"Thank you very much," Tenten added, feeling obligated to stand up to give Hiashi a proper bow. When she tried to, the leader of the Hyuuga clan motioned for her to remain on the bed, and Tenten made due with a low half bow.
"Well, then," said Hiashi as he turned toward the door. "I will leave you two to get ready."
"We will see you at breakfast," Neji told him.
"Take your time," he replied before closing the door. Not a second after they were alone again, Tenten reached over and opened the top box. Pulling out an article of clothing, she admired the modifications running along the sleeves that would allow them the convenience of putting on their clothes with ease. Rifling through the other sets of clothing, she saw that they were tailored to her size. Though the aesthetic was similar to the Hyuuga clan, she didn't mind. The style of the clothing was something she could get used to.
"This is actually cute," she exclaimed. "How did your uncle get a hold of these clothes?"
Tenten opened the second box containing Neji's new clothes, but he didn't give them a passing glance. "He must have asked our seamstresses to make the alterations."
"I see," she said absent-mindedly as she pulled more contents out of her box to find a set of undergarments, among useful things. "Well, let's get ready for the day. We have a lot to do."
Neji let out a scoff. "You just want to try on all these clothes."
Looking up, Tenten gave him a cheeky grin. "You know me so well."
"I just realized something," stated Tenten, twisting the knob to turn on the faucet. She placed the cup under the running water, watching it being filled up to the brim.
"What would that be?" Neji was searching through the cabinets, pulling out the necessities they both needed from his well-stocked bathroom.
"I want to kill Lee." After going through the ordeal of using the toilet, Tenten had never felt so embarrassed, but she quickly got over it by directing her anger toward her other teammate.
"Get in line." Neji pulled out a spare toothbrush and handed it to her. She didn't care for the color, it was yellow, a fair cry from her violet one she had at home.
"I think we should super glue his hands together for a week." She rinsed the bristles under the faucet before squeezing out a small amount of toothpaste. A strong smell of spearmint filled her senses as she started to brush her teeth.
"Two weeks." Neji was already two steps ahead of her, rinsing his toothbrush before placing it in an empty cup in order to let it dry. His movements were mechanical as if their conjoined hands did not have an effect on his morning routine.
"Isn't that kind of cruel?" Her amber eyes darted to the mirror, watching their reflected images mimic their attempt to manuever in the small bathroom.
"Cruelty is better than death." His ominous tone didn't faze her, not when he had a beard full of shaving cream on his face. It took all of Tenten's will-power to not let out a snort, knowing that if she did, she would get foam all over Neji's clean bathroom mirror.
"You're letting him off that easily?" Deciding it was the best time to rinse her mouth, the brunette tried her best to keep still as her teammate tend to his grooming.
"We could glue him to a heavy object that would restrict his movements for a month." Watching Neji out of the corner of her eyes, Tenten came to realize that the male members of Hyuuga clan did not favor facial hair. Whether it was by personal choice or proper etiquette, she found that it was probably for the better, because if Neji grew a beard, he would look utterly ridiculous, and she would never be able to take him seriously.
"Like a tree?" Tenten raised a brow.
"A boulder?" She tried.
Neji ran the razor up his neck in a smooth motion before giving her a reply. "Most likely."
"You've thought a lot about this, haven't you?"
"You have no idea," he told her as he ran a towel under warm water.
"At least you have better ideas than I do. My other option was to shave off his eyebrows."
Wrangling it until it was damp, the Jounin began to wipe off the remainder of the shaving cream. "What purpose would that serve?"
"Six months of humiliation," came her reply.
"I doubt that would dampen Lee's spirits."
"You're right," Tenten sighed. "Guess I need to put some effort into this revenge plot."
"You have six days. I'm sure you'll come up with something." Neji heard her chuckle.
"If not, we can brainstorm," the kunoichi suggested. Reaching for the brush, Tenten ran it through her hair, undoing the knots and tangles in a few fluid motions. Then, with trained fingers, she quickly fashioned her hair into two buns, securing them in pins that were conveniently provided for her by Hiashi. If there was one thing she applauded the Hyuuga family, it was their keen attention to detail. All the while, Neji stood idly beside her until she turned to him. He was waiting for her to finish. "Do you want me to put up your hair?"
"There's no need," Neji held out his hand for the brush. "I can tie my own hair."
"Aww, come on," Tenten exclaimed. "Aren't you a little tired of your ponytail?"
"What other hair style is there?"
"I can braid it," she suggested. "May I, please?"
"No," he answered curtly. "I don't care for braids."
"You probably don't know how to braid hair, is that it?"
"Tenten, I don't want my hair in a braid." She ignored his stubbornness.
"You never know, maybe it'll look good on you."
"That hardly counts as an incentive to change my hair style." If there was on thing Tenten knew about her teammate, it was that Neji was very protective of his hair. "More importantly, I don't see any men walking around with braided hair."
"Maybe you can start a trend," she said with a smile.
"I'll take a pass on that theory," he replied firmly. "Now, hurry up. We are going to be late for breakfast."
"Fine," she sighed in defeat. "Can I at least brush your hair?"
He thought it over for a moment before he gave her a reply. "Make it quick."
When they walked into the dining room, Hinata and Hanabi were all ready seated. The food was set on the table and Neji and Tenten gave their morning salutations before taking their seats.
Tenten smiled and talked to Hinata and Hanabi as Neji ate. Among the friendly exchanges of idle chatter, the notion that Neji and Tenten were bound together wasn't apparent to his cousins. Whether they were too polite to say anything, or feared a repeat of last night's abrupt departure, Tenten was glad that they were at least interacting normally.
Neji, on the other hand, took his uncle's approach and remained silent. Ever since they entered the room, the prodigy kept up with the facade of being nonchalant despite the occasional gaze of his little cousin. Tenten was doing a good job distracting Hinata and Hanabi by talking about miscellaneous things that he didn't care for. Even so, he couldn't help but give his teammate a glance every now and then, observing her charismatic enthusiasm to carry on a conversation.
Finally, to his relief, his cousins and uncle took their exit and left him alone with Tenten. More or less, the pair didn't see the need to rush into the village. Tenten took full advantage of this fact and began to eat more freely, moving their connected hands on the table to stimulate the blood circulation in their hands and arms.
Tenten picked up her bowl of soup, poured it into her bowl of rice, and began to eat her breakfast with her soup spoon. While doing so, she ignored the disapproving look Neji was giving her. "You're doing that on purpose."
"What of it? I'm hungry." After spending almost half an hour eating with just a pair of chopsticks, she was barely halfway done.
"You can use your other hand," he stated. "I'm done eating."
"It's fine," she said earnestly. "Besides, it would be distracting to see your hand in my face while I'm eating."
"That's not a valid excuse for you to eat rice with a spoon." She was tempted to use her soup spoon in the first five minutes of eating, but decided against it, knowing how it would annoy Neji since he was a stickler for proper etiquette. Now that they were the only ones in the dining room, Tenten could care less, even if Neji was reprimanding her. Satisfying her hunger was more important than her teammate's strict discipline on table manners.
"Oh, give it up, Neji. I'm using my chopsticks too."
"Very poorly, I might add," he remarked as Tenten skewered a piece of pickled radish. Had Hiashi been in the room, she was sure he would've given her the same depreciating stare.
"It's better than using my hands," she retorted. "You know I favor my left."
"All the more reason to practice."
"Does it really bother you that much?" The kunoichi asked him in spite.
"Yes, it does."
"Well, there is alternative option. You can feed me," she said playfully.
"Don't tempt me." Obviously, Neji didn't get the joke.
"I would never do that," she replied, giving him a wide smile. "Besides, I'm done."
"We should get going then." The Jounin got up and waited for Tenten to stand before pulling her to the exit. "We have wasted enough time."
Walking down the long corridors, Tenten admired the blue skies, noting how it was a little cooler than yesterday. "What's on the agenda?"
"Training," came his reply.
"Seriously?" She asked him in disbelief. It was definitely too early to continue their assigned mission, and a part of Tenten thought that Neji would have considered a more relaxing activity like reading, polishing weapons, or shopping for new scrolls. Obviously, she expected too much from him.
"Do you have another better idea?" There was no doubt that it would difficult training with Neji considering their current situation, and it had been a long time since they've trained together. On occasion, she and Neji would spar, but that was it. The rest of the time, she would train with Lee, and over the years, he helped her improved her hand-to-hand combat even though she could never keep up his crazy stamina. Once she weighed the benefits of training with Neji, Tenten gave into his consideration, only to find out that she would regret her decision several hours later.
It was noon and her teammate was trying to kill her. Tenten naturally came to this conclusion after a few hours of nonstop training. "Let's take a break, Neji. We have been training all morning." She was at her limit. Although the weather was more bearable, the exhaustion she felt was close to agony. Even the act of breathing became a chore.
"I don't remember you complaining this much when we trained with Gai," her teammate remarked. While she lacked the stamina to keep with him, Neji didn't make it any easier for her. Once they arrived at the training grounds, they began to meditate, and after that, they practiced their ability to move in sync without stumbling over their feet.
Reading movements was easy for Tenten, but executing the movements was a completely different matter. It took a few instructions from Neji to get it right. Eventually, they were able to adapt to move in sync, but Neji wasn't satisfied. "Even with Gai's insane regime, he at least gave us a break after each exercise."
Neji gave her a glance and navigated toward the trees. "Fine, we will rest."
"Finally," the kunoichi breathed out a sigh of relief as she laid on her back. She didn't even mind that the grass was prickling on her tired muscles. As long as she wasn't moving, she was content. "You know, I'm not like you. I can't train for four hours straight without a break."
"You are already training at the Jounin level," he reminded her, "I don't see why you haven't been promoted."
"I'm fine being a Chuunin." The brunette wiped the hair out of her face, slightly annoyed that it was clumped together due to her perspiration. "I get a fair share of high ranking missions." Looking up, she saw that Neji was holding a handkerchief out to her. "Besides, I've been on enough missions with you to know what to expect. Being promoted wouldn't be any different." She reached for it and began to wipe the sweat off her brow. "Not every mission has to end up with a near death experience, Neji."
"At least you get a choice in choosing your missions." Neji took a long drink from the canteen before setting it down beside her. It took all the strength in her to will her heavy arms to grab it.
"As much as I like picking my missions," she began, taking a gulp of water before continuing, "not all of them are appealing. That's the only negative side of a Jounin: more responsibility."
"Among other things," he said, moving closer to lay down beside her.
"Another downside of being a Jounin: less time for training."
Neji closed his eyes in defeat. "True."
"Well, that would explain your relentless refusal to take a break." She turned to him and gave him a nudge with her elbow. "Just like old times, eh?"
He chose not to answer her rhetorical question. "I thought you would have no trouble keeping up since you've been training with Lee."
"Lee and I have a different definition of training. You know how crazy he could get," she sighed. "I have to look out for him, and be there for moral support. Not to mention I also have to make sure he doesn't go overboard. Besides, I usually train on my own."
"That explains why you weren't able to keep up."
Tenten rolled her eyes. "Unlike you and Lee, I don't have unlimited stamina."
"You have more stamina than most female shinobi I know." She felt Neji shifting beside her. He was finished resting, but she wasn't done and remained on her back.
"That doesn't mean I don't need a break every now and then." Even though she wasn't soaking up some sun at the beach, laying in the shade had its merits. At least she didn't have to worry about the sand adhering to her skin. Cleaning sand off her body was always a nightmare.
"You are more capable than you give yourself credit for, Tenten." She looked up to her teammate and saw the familiar expression on his face, the one he'd give her whenever she questioned her potential. It was his own way of giving her encouragement, which she appreciated because he doesn't do it very often. He was always pushing her to her limit, and once in awhile, she would let him, like today.
Tenten refused to let him provoke her any further. "Remind me how grateful I should be come tomorrow morning because my muscles are going to be sore, and it's all your fault."
Neji let out a low chuckle. "Come on, let's go." He gently helped the brunette to her feet and led the way.
It took Tenten a few seconds to adjust to the bright sunlight and she had to blink a few times to clear her vision. "Where are we going?"
"To cool down," he told her. As always, he was cryptic.
The brunette gave him a scoff. "I was fine laying here in the shade."
"You were never the one to turn down shaved ice." He gave her a smirk and she wanted nothing more than to wipe off that smug look on his face.
"Why didn't you say so?" She saw the way his shoulders flinched at her excitement and inwardly patted herself on the back. It filled her with joy that she was able to inflict some pain upon Neji to match the aching pain of her muscles. It was a small victory, but a victory nonetheless.
"You didn't give me a chance." With the prospect of a sweet cool treat, Tenten's mood lifted, and soldiered on until she met Neji's long strides.
"Well, it's the best idea you've had since morning."
"Hn," was his reply, which was his way of rolling his eyes. The Alpha male of his Hyuuga ego did not appreciate her doubt, and Tenten didn't even bother to hide her laughter. It was amusing to shake him out of his comfort zone, and she was enjoying every minute of it.
For the rest of the day, Tenten and Neji returned to their assignment for their D-rank mission by setting up the stalls for the festival. The weather was starting to be unrelenting as the afternoon wore on. As the hours passed, the temperature began to rise, prompting them both to work faster.
Nothing was out of the ordinary since their newly constructed garments were design to cover their conjoined hands. Although the sleeves were long, the material was light and breathable. Finally, after three hours, they assembled enough stalls for the vendors to use.
The pair went back to the Hyuuga compound to cool off and to change into clean clothes. On Tenten's insistence, they were to attend the festival. At first, Neji refused to go, but Tenten convinced him otherwise, stating how she wanted to try on the yukata his uncle had fashioned for them. Reluctantly, he yielded to her request since he was clearly outnumbered. Moreover, he didn't want to disappointment Tenten since she had her heart set on going. Over the past years, she couldn't attend the summer festival due to long missions, and now that she had an opportunity, she didn't want to give up that chance.
After washing up, they were his bedroom. He was fully clothed in his attire while Tenten was in the process of tying her obi. "Oh cheer up, Neji. It will be fun."
He was sulking and she knew. "I am not looking forward to the crowded streets, especially in the heat of summer." Even in their brightly decorated summer wear, it did not brighten up Neji's mood.
"Ever the pessimistic," Tenten rolled her eyes. "Where is your inner child?"
"He grew up," the Jounin answered without missing a beat.
"So are you saying I'm the childish one?"
"No, that's not what I meant," Neji stated calmly. "The last time I attended the festival, it was with my father. He persuaded me to participate in the festival games, and would let me stay up to watch the fireworks. It was a night I would never forget. It was also the last time I attended the festival."
Tenten's voice grew quiet. "We don't have to go if you don't feel like it. I don't want to force you into anything."
She tilted her head to the side. "Are you sure?"
"Yes," he told her without any hesitation. His gaze focused on the unravelled obi. "Do you need help?"
"Yes," she sheepishly replied. "I can't believe I forgot how to do this." His uncle picked the colors well and no expense was spared in the construction of their summer outfits. The violet obi completed Tenten's powder blue yukata that was decorated with golden patterns of spider lilies. His yukata was a shade darker than hers, imprinted with subtle patterns that did not overshadow the impeccable stitching.
"Give me the other end." The kunoichi handed her teammate her obi and watched in awe as he expertly wrapped it in a clean bow in a manner of seconds.
"Thank you." She let him twist the obi around her waist so that the bow was visible from the back. "Have you done this before?"
"No, I haven't," he stated. "I've seen Hinata do it once."
"It usually takes me several tries to get it right." Tenten raised her brow questionably. "Is this one of your hidden talents?"
He gave her a scoff. "I'm a prodigy, Tenten, not an expert on women's fashion."
"Are you sure about that?" She asked him as she let out a laugh.
"We should go." Neji ignored her rhetoric question. "The sun has already set."
"All right." Tenten grabbed her sandals and followed her teammate out the door. "Let's head out."
The streets of Konoha were filled with citizens of all ages. Every where they looked, they would see the citizens of Konoha dressed in their yukuta, carrying a fan to fend off the rising heat due to the large crowds and the lack of ventilation. The lanterns they had worked on turned out beautifully, illuminating the colorful decorations and surrounding area as the people gleefully enjoyed themselves. As they walked down the narrow pathways, the air was filled with the smell of barbecue meats, sweet pastries, and other street fares that made Tenten excited and also very hungry. Smelling the food made her realize that they had barely eaten all day.
Occasionally, she would stop to survey the booths and made a mental note to come back before venturing off to the next side of the street. Whether her actions annoyed Neji, he didn't complain. Instead, he followed her diligently while he tried to avoid bumping into people. After a couple of purchases, Tenten could sense her teammate's discomfort, and they both went down to the river to cool off.
"Here you go." Tenten held a plate of grilled squid to Neji while taking a bite of her dango. Before sitting down, she rearranged her yukata so that she would not wrinkle it.
"Thank you." After accepting a portion of her food, Neji sat down next to her on the riverbed. Once he was settled, he began to eat and gestured for Tenten to take a skewer.
"The turnout was bigger than I expected," the kunoichi stated, chewing thoughtfully on the savory snack. She let out a sigh, noting how cool it was compared to the packed crowds and narrow streets. It was quiet and from their position, they could see glow of the lanterns leading back to the center of the festival. There was less light near the river, but it did not deter them from leaving. Even though Tenten preferred sitting on a bench, watching the citizens enjoy themselves under the warm hue of cheerful chatter, the subtle sounds of the frogs croaking and crickets chirping was a change for the better.
"I agree," her teammate replied. She didn't expect him to elaborate any further, and he didn't. Instead, they sat there in silence, listening to the flow of the river trickling over rocks and pebbles. The night sky was clear with the full moon beaming down upon them, and Tenten could count the never-ending stars twinkling above them. Occasionally, she would peer over to her teammate, whose eyes were trained on the river that reflected the moonlight. From what she could tell, he was in a contemplating mood. Ever since they were bound together, the possibility of solitude was nonexistent. At least for now, they had time to be idle, even if it was only for a little while.
The only thing that was running through Neji's mind at the moment was that he was enjoying his evening with Tenten. He was freed from the burdens of responsibility, and for the first time in a long time, he was able to relax. Over the past years, he avoided the summer festival because he couldn't bear the thought of reliving the memories of the times he spent with his father. It only made him feel nostalgic because it was later that year his father had passed away. After tonight, however, Neji was thankful that he came with Tenten. Sitting here with her was peaceful, and the calming effect made him appreciate her efforts to help him experience the sentimental things he thought he had grown out of.
Before long, the lanterns began to dim and the fireworks began to light up the dark sky. The summer festival was coming to an end. Knowing that it was close to midnight, Neji thought it was time to get going. Naturally, he got to feet and waited for Tenten to do the same. As he took a step forward, he didn't realize that Tenten had lost her balance, and before he could catch her and distribute the sudden change of force, they had fallen into the river. The Jounin didn't waste any time to pull his teammate out of the water before realizing that he too, was soaked to the bone. In dimmed light, he could see that Tenten's yukata was literally transparent. Immediately, he obscured his view and held her an arm's length away as she recovered from her fall.
"Thanks," she breathed out, struggling to regain her posture. The brunette held onto Neji's arm like her life depended on it, and despite the warm summer air, she couldn't help but shiver.
"Are you all right?" The kunoichi turned to her teammate, noting that he gave her the courtesy to cover up her modesty. Looking down, she saw the outline of her undergarments, and brought her arms closer to her body.
"Yeah, for the most part." Although Tenten was beyond embarrassed, she still had her wits about her. Knowing that their best option was to go to her apartment to dry off rather than returning to the Hyuuga compound in an unpresentable state, she led the way while her teammate followed her blindly. In times like these, she appreciated Neji's silence, and at the same time, cursed her clumsiness. For a shinobi, the concept of grace always escaped her.
Due to the festival, they both arrived at Tenten's apartment without being seen by other people. Once they stepped through the threshold, Tenten immediately went to the bathroom with Neji in tow after leaving their wet sandals near the door. Grabbing a few towels, she handed one to her teammate, who was in the middle of taking off his yukata. He secured his lower half of his body with a towel as took off all of his wet clothing, placing them on the rack behind him. As he dried his hair, she untied her obi and took off her yukata, revealing her wet bra and underwear. Like clockwork, the brunette hung her wet clothing on the towel rack next to Neji's clothing, and tried her best to dry off.
Her teammate was almost dry, except for his hair. Since Neji was occupied, Tenten gently led him to her bedroom in search of dry undergarments and clothing. It took her less than a minute to find what she was looking: a strapless bra, a pair of panties, and shorts. In times like these, she was glad that she kept her drawers well-organized.
Neji had finished drying himself, but kept the towel on his head to give Tenten a bit of privacy despite the fact that he had his back to her. He was fully naked and the only thing that covered his modesty was the towel wrapped around his waist. Having nothing better to do, he surveyed her room as Tenten was putting on her clothes. Her room was exactly how he remembered. Nothing changed except for the extra furnishings that she used for her growing collection of scrolls. There was an armoire near the far corner of her room that was filled with an array of her weapons. He tried counting them all once, but lost track when he reached the thousands. There was no doubt that the number of weapons in there had increased over the years.
"I'm all dressed. You can remove your towel now," she told him. Neji turned to her and saw that she was only wearing a bra and a pair of shorts. Wearing nothing except a towel, he realized that he was very under dressed.
"Do have an extra pair of pants I could borrow?"
"You know what? I think I do." It was a pair of sweats. "You lent me these on our last mission and I forgot to return them to you." He remembered the mission well. It was during winter and they had to hike through the snowy mountain paths to get to their destination. Upon leaving the mountain trail, there was an avalanche, blocking the only path down. Since they had no choice but to wait, the two of them had to stay at an inn. Tenten, at that time, did not pack enough clothes and asked him to spare her a pair of pants. Not wanting his teammate to walk around without any pants on, he didn't give it a second thought and handed her a pair of his sweats, which was the only thing that she could fit into.
Neji gratefully accepted the dry pair of pants and put them on. "Thanks."
"As far as stolen clothes go, I don't have a shirt for you." He watched Tenten pull out a light-weight blanket and draped it over their shoulders. "I guess this will have to do," she smiled at him. Her cheerful demeanor did not bring him any ease to his mind because underneath the cotton blanket, they were not fully clothed.
They both migrated to the living room after Tenten fixed them both a cup of tea, hoping that it would be the remedy to keep them both from catching a cold. Sitting on the couch, Tenten was flipping through the channels while he silently appreciated a moment of privacy. Though Hinata and Hanabi were discreet, there was no doubt in his mind that they were curious about Tenten's visit, especially since she had dinner with the family, spent the night, and joined them for breakfast the next day. His uncle, on the other hand, was well within his rights to question his attachment to his teammate, and he knew it would a matter of time before his uncle would ask. For the time being, he was glad to be away from the impending interrogations.
While his teammate was watching a movie, he tried his best to keep his distance, but every now and then, her hip would brush against his abdomen and he would flinch as the memories of last night drifted back to him. His discomfort went unnoticed. At times, she would move their conjoined hands closer to her leg whenever she had an itch, and his hand would brush against her bare skin, making his body heat up as a result. He tried to focus his attention on the movie, ignoring the subtle heat radiating against his skin whenever he came in contact with Tenten's hip, or whenever her thigh would brush against his leg. Her shorts were another problem. They were thin, outlining her underwear as well as her tight ass, and as if the bandages from last night were not bad enough, the only thing she had on was a bra that could easily unclasp. At least the bindings from last night were wrapped around her chest multiple times to ensure complete coverage.
Even with his training: hours of meditation, S-rank missions, and surveillance, it did not prepare him for the situation he was currently facing. It didn't help his case when she leaned against his shoulder. He was sure that she was doing it unintentionally, however, the Jounin was convinced that someone out there was trying to test his will power; that, or the universe was playing a cruel trick on him. Either way, he had to endure it even if it was starting to drive him insane.
A moan. A whimper. His name. Her voice was faint, but he could hear it. Every breath she took was his undoing, and having her so close elicited a strong desire within him to have her panting under him in pleasure and ecstasy. He could feel the rapid rise and fall of her chest; her breathing became unsteady as her lips parted, urging him with a simple word he couldn't ignore. Gripping firmly on her lower back, he pulled her closer to him until every curve and concave of her body was pressed against his own. With her beneath him, every doubt left his mind as he let his instincts take over.
He was throbbing in excitement. Being intentionally slow and damn near torturous, he teased her until she withered and arched her hips toward him. He wanted this. He wanted to try her patience, nudging at her entrance until he was coated with her eagerness, but he did not push forward, not until he asked for her permission. A nod from her was all he needed before he slowly impaled her. A sharp gasp brushed against his ear as her inner walls closed around him. She was tight and hot. Despite his impulse to bury himself deeper, he gave her time to adjust to him, staying still even if it took all of his self-control to do so.
He caught her whimpering in discomfort as she rolled her hips. Her movements were tight and slow, taunting him to fill her fully until he was torn between pleasure and agony. Wanting desperately to calm her, he covered her lips with his own. Her response was immediate, kissing him softly until she was unaware that he had started to move. He thrust slowly, in and out. Her small gasps against his lips only enticed his movements as he grind against her, feeling the contraction of her inner walls clamping tightly around him. She felt good: wet and narrow, drawing him in with every merciless thrust.
Before long, her voice was calling his name, pleading him to move faster. He gave into her completely, unable to ignore her soft imploring voice as it grew louder and louder. The sound of his name echoed continuously, reaching a relentless cry of desperation until every fiber of his being conformed to her every passionate command. Her warmth was the only sensation he could feel, a consistent ebb and flow, bringing him over to the edge with every moan, gasp, and whimper. Right then and there, he knew. She would be the end of him, and there was no turning back.
His eyes snapped open the moment he heard a resonating knock. There was someone at the door. He had the intention of bolting up from his position, but the weight on his chest prevented him from doing so. Looking down, he saw Tenten leaning against his bare chest with her eyes closed. The rest of her body was comfortably draped over his own with their connected hands between them. It took a second for him to register that they were not fully clothed, and another second to realize that he was aroused. Suddenly, the impending knocks were the last thing on his mind.
Neji shifted his lower half of his body, grateful that he was still in his sweats. With Tenten wearing only her undergarments and thin shorts, he could feel the contours of her breasts, flat stomach, and toned legs that was straddling his right leg. Being careful, he tried to move Tenten's body away from him without waking her up by rolling her back onto the couch.
He steadied his balance with his free hand, hovering above her sleeping form. She looked vulnerable, and since he was aroused, it made the situation even worst. With his teammate laying on her back, he pulled his body away, only to find out that he could not. He tried to wiggle his leg, hoping to get free, but stopped when she moved her pelvis against his thigh. The Hyuuga prodigy took a sharp intake of breath and held still, hoping that she would stop. When she didn't, he proceeded with another approach despite the consequences. Lifting his leg, Neji slowly moved his knee between her legs and pushed forward slightly, aware that he was pressing against her clitoris.
Tenten reacted immediately by grinding her heated core on his knee. He repeated his action, ignoring the urge to bend his lower half down any closer. He rubbed against her until Tenten's legs parted, but her body was still responding. He watched as her back arched forward, trying to continue the friction between her legs. Vivid images of his erotic dream flashed before him and turned himself away while he tried to ignore his impulsive needs.
Observing her state of peaceful slumber, he couldn't help but notice her shivering. Attentively, Neji pulled the blankets over her body as he sat on the edge of the couch. Outside, the sky was still dark. It was still early, so he let her sleep while he sat in the empty room to gather his thoughts.
As teammates, they were close. Her rational behavior was a trait that he could identify with, and after she developed her skills and found her calling as the team's weapons expert, Neji knew that he had to have her as a sparring partner. A few years later he told her about the secret technique he was trying to build from scratch, and the story behind his hatred toward the Main Branch family. He expected her to turn him away from his proposal, but she didn't. Not only did she help him perfect the Kaiten, she was the only person who believed in him. Soon after that his battle with Naruto, Neji realized that he too, had someone to he wanted to protect, and that person was Tenten.
When he received the nomination for the Jounin position, he was reluctant to take it. Being promoted at a young age was an honor. However, it would mean that he wouldn't be a part of Team Gai. They were all proud of him. Gai was bragging to Kakashi, Lee was crying tears of joy, and Tenten gave him a hug, even though she knew that he did not like the idea of intimacy. At first, he didn't immediately accept the offer and gave it a few day's thought. Fear was the last thing on his mind. He knew the challenges he would have to face once he accepted the position: more dangerous missions, more responsibility, and also, more risks. Death was only an occupational hazard. It took him two days to finally reach his decision. He had to find out for himself the extent of his skills, and in order to continue his growth as a shinobi, he had to distance himself from Team Gai. It was a hard decision. He knew that being away from Team Gai would also mean being away from Tenten, but with every chance he got, he would ask her to be a part of his team, and she would accept.
Every once in a while, he would think of Tenten, and she would occupy his mind for weeks on end until he saw her in person. Then, he would start to distance himself whenever he felt like his feelings became too overbearing. It was a routine he had developed. In the beginning, he'd rationalize his concern for her well-being, but as the years went on, he knew he was only lying to himself, so he did what anyone in his situation would do: he ignored it.
Neji wanted her; that much he knew. Now that he was in this predicament, all of his rational thoughts were starting to chip away. His perception was slowly being compromised, his routine became desolated, and his patience was starting to wear thin. The prodigy was standing on the edge of a dangerous precipice, on the verge of tipping over, and in this very moment, she was not making it any easier for him. Not by a long shot.
A/N: Things are turning a bit dramatic. The next part of the story will be the final part of this series. Are you still interested?
Thank you for reading!